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Energy Brief: Group of Seven Statement Delayed by Trump Energy Review

Washington Brief

  • Energy officials from the Group of Seven nations could not agree on a joint statement Monday because the Trump administration is still reviewing its energy priorities. (The Associated Press)
  • Lawmakers from both parties are alarmed that Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft could own Citgo, a U.S. energy company based in Houston. (CNN Money)
  • The Trump administration wants the Bureau of Land Management to focus on allowing more oil, gas and coal projects and the security of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a draft document. (E&E News)

Business Brief

  • Leaked emails show that senior officials at Royal Dutch Shell knew that most of $1.3 billion for an oil block in Nigeria was going to the country’s then-petroleum minister and his associates. The company has denied wrongdoing. (Financial Times)
  • BHP Billiton, the world’s largest listed miner, rejected a plan from an activist investor to get rid of its oil operations. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Saudi Arabia is exploring development of its gas reserves with companies such as BP and Chevron as it seeks to diversify from oil. (Reuters)

Chart Review

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell 1.7% in 2016
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
Electric Power Conference and Exhibition 8:30 a.m.
EESI event on foreign climate aid 3 p.m.
Wednesday
Electric Power Conference and Exhibition 9 a.m.
Thursday
Electric Power Conference and Exhibition 8:30 a.m.
Wilson Center discussion on China’s energy finance 9:30 a.m.
Atlantic Council discussion on advanced energy and national security 12:30 p.m.
Friday
R Street discussion on fuel economy standards and emissions regulations 12 p.m.

 

General

Trump’s energy review blocks Group of Seven from consensus
Karl Ritter and Colleen Barry, The Associated Press

Top energy officials from the Group of Seven industrial nations failed to agree on language for a joint declaration on Monday because of the U.S. administration’s review of policies related to climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Perry urges “low emission” coal and gas at G7
James Osborne, Houston Chronicle

Energy Secretary Rick Perry urged countries to pursue energy projects using “high efficiency, low-emission coal and natural gas,” at a meeting with energy ministers from the world’s largest economies in Rome Monday.

BHP Billiton Urged by Activist Investor to Shed Oil Operations
Scott Patterson et al., The Wall Street Journal

Activist investor Elliott Management Corp. on Monday urged BHP Billiton Ltd. to spin off its U.S. petroleum assets and outlined a significant restructuring for the world’s largest listed miner. BHP rejected the New York hedge fund’s plan as too costly, setting up another fight between a giant international company and the investment firm managed by Paul Singer.

BLM ‘priority’ list pushes drilling, wall — leaked docs
Scott Streater, E&E News

The Trump administration is developing a “priority work” list for the Bureau of Land Management’s 10,000 employees that calls on the agency to focus on permitting oil, gas and coal projects and securing the U.S.-Mexico border, presumably through construction of a wall, according to internal documents obtained by E&E News.

As winning streak falters analysts debate where next for oil
Gemma Acton, CNBC

Oil prices traded lower in the early European session following the longest positive streak of the year for the commodity as analysts remained divided on where the price will head from here.

Oil and Natural Gas

Leaked emails increase pressure on Shell over Nigerian oil deal
Maggie Fick and Andrew Ward, Financial Times

A trove of internal Shell emails seen by the Financial Times and dated between 2008 and 2010 leave no doubt that senior people within the company knew that most of the $1.3bn paid together with Eni for OPL 245 was destined for Malabu, and that much of the money would end up with Mr Etete and associates. Shell had previously said only that the money was paid to a Nigerian government escrow account.

Russia could soon control a U.S. oil company
Heather Long, CNN Money

In a crazy twist of international events, Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft might end up owning Citgo, a US energy company based in Houston, Texas. … Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are highly alarmed.

Venezuela Creditor Seeks Asset Freeze on U.S. Refiner Citgo
Andrew Scurria, The Wall Street Journal

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company should be stopped from plundering its U.S. subsidiary Citgo Holding Inc., according to court papers filed Monday evening by a creditor seeking $1.4 billion from the South American country.

Exclusive: Saudis, oil majors discuss gas investments ahead of giant IPO
Ron Bousso et al., Reuters

Saudi Arabia and international oil companies have discussed gas venture opportunities inside the kingdom and abroad as part of the top crude-exporting country’s drive to diversify investments before the listing of national energy giant Saudi Aramco.

China and Myanmar open long-delayed oil pipeline
Lucy Hornby, Financial Times

China and Myanmar have finally agreed to open a cross-border pipeline into south-east China, allowing Beijing to diversify oil supply routes and reduce its dependence on the contentious South China Sea.

Environmental Groups Appeal New Jersey Gas Pipeline Approval
The Associated Press

Two environmental groups are appealing the approval of a hotly contested natural gas pipeline through the ecologically sensitive New Jersey Pinelands region by the state agency created to protect the area.

Oil surplus or scarcity? Shale makes it even harder to predict
Amanda Cooper, Reuters

The shale oil boom has transformed the U.S. and global energy sector to such an extent that it has upended traditional supply dynamics and made forecasts far more polarized. … Most forecasters including OPEC and the International Energy Agency underestimated shale’s decline during the oil price collapse and its production increases as prices recovered.

Drillers in Biggest U.S. Gas Play Get More Bang for Their Buck
Ryan Collins, Bloomberg News

Natural gas drillers in America’s biggest shale play are getting more bang for their buck than ever before. Thanks to new pipelines and technological advances, producers in the Northeast can now tailor their output to the rise and fall of gas prices.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Natural Gas Plant Makes A Play For Coal’s Market, Using ‘Clean’ Technology
Christopher Joyce, NPR News

President Trump wants America to use more “clean coal” to make electricity. He hasn’t elaborated on what kind of coal that might be. … Though “carbon capture” has been slow to catch on among those who run coal-fired power plants (despite billions spent on research), entrepreneurs are now starting to adapt the technology for natural gas — coal’s biggest competitor.

Renewables

Controversial bill to cut solar incentive heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk
Stephanie Wang, Indy Star

One of the most heated, most talked-about pieces of legislation this year imposes new regulations on the small but burgeoning niche of renewable energy producers — while benefiting big utility companies. With a 37-11 vote Monday, the Indiana Senate sent Senate Bill 309 to Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Saudi Arabia shortlists companies for its solar, wind projects
Reem Shamseddine, Reuters

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has shortlisted companies for its solar and wind power projects, as part of the first round of its renewable energy initiative, the energy ministry said on Monday.

Renewable energy tax credits challenge markets
Chris Tomlinson, Houston Chronicle

In the spring and fall, the wind blows so hard at night that wind turbines supply all of the power that Texas needs in the wee hours of the morning. More surprising is that all of that wind means the price of electricity turns negative.

The Next Solar Energy Revolution Is Hiding in Plain Sight
Kate Baggaley, NBC News

When most people think of powering their homes with solar energy, they imagine a fleet of unsightly panels covering their roofs and yards. But that’s changing fast. This month, Tesla will begin taking orders for solar shingles that can generate power for the home and still look like everyday roofing tiles.

Trump Once Railed Against Offshore Wind but Is Now Embracing It
Michael Reilly, MIT Technology Review

Before Donald Trump became president, he did not have a high opinion of offshore wind power. … With the Trump administration now under way, though, things seem to have changed.

Coal

‘America first’ may put coal country last
Hannah Northey and Sam Mintz, E&E News

Canada is warning the Trump administration that a “Buy American” plan for U.S. oil and gas pipelines could have an unexpected casualty: coal country. The Canadian government last week told the Commerce Department that requiring all new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines in the United States to use domestic materials and equipment would spell trouble for top coal- and iron-ore-producing states that sell their raw goods to Canada.

Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India’s aim to stop imports
Michael Safi, The Guardian

Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible.

Nuclear

Japan’s nuclear technology faces extinction
Nikkei Asian Review

Japan’s nuclear power industry is at the most critical juncture in its history. Demand for new reactors has dried up at home following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and dismal prospects for export are dual menaces threatening the fate of the country’s nuclear technology.

Climate

There Was Nothing Normal About America’s Freakish Winter Weather
Brian K. Sullivan, Bloomberg News

It’s not your imagination. The weather has been weird. … While some of the swings may result from chance, scientists agree climate change is adding to weather mayhem and that the world will have to brace for worse.

Scientists Fear Climate Data Gap as Trump Aims at Satellites
Henry Fountain, The New York Times

Among the sweeping cuts in the Trump administration’s 53-­page budget blueprint released last month, one paragraph stood out to climate researchers. It proposed eliminating four of NASA’s climate science missions, including instruments to study clouds, small airborne particles, the flow of carbon dioxide and other elements of the atmosphere and oceans.

Climate change could destroy far more of the Arctic’s frozen soil than we expected
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

Climate change could cause another 4 million square kilometers, or about 1.5 million square miles, of permafrost to disappear with every additional degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, of warming, a new study suggests.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

BHP Needs to Prove Oil and Iron Are Better Together
Nathaniel Taplin, The Wall Street Journal

Drilling for oil and digging up minerals are different businesses, and companies should stick to what they do best. So argues hedge fund Elliott Management, which proposed Monday that BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, should spin off its U.S. oil assets. Elliott has a point: BHP shares have underperformed those of rival Rio Tinto since the commodity crash in 2011.

China’s Xi Outshines Trump as the World’s Future Energy Leader
David Biello, Scientific American

Much of Pres. Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Fla., sits less than two meters above the Atlantic Ocean, meaning big parts of the resort could rest beneath the waves by the end of this century as seas rise in response to global warming. … But all that seems to exist in an alternate universe where facts matter, because Trump and China’s Pres. Xi Jinping apparently ignored climate change at their inaugural meeting last week.

Clean energy makes economic sense
Shannon Fisk, The Detroit News

President Donald Trump’s new executive order on climate change isn’t a green light to ramp up spending on coal plants. As more utilities and decision makers throughout the country are finally acknowledging, the market has turned against coal, regardless of what happens in Washington.

Research Reports

An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming
S. E. Chadburn et al., Nature Climate Change

Permafrost, which covers 15 million kmof the land surface, is one of the components of the Earth system that is most sensitive to warming. … Our method facilitates an assessment for COP21 climate change targets: if the climate is stabilized at 2C above pre-industrial levels, we estimate that the permafrost area would eventually be reduced by over 40%.